How To Launch and Manage Multiple Websites Efficiently
I own and operate multiple websites. Additionally, I launch a new website probably once a month (whenever I have the idea for one). Because of this, I need a quick, simple, and cost effective way to execute the end to end process of launching a website.
This process includes the following:
- Domain registration
- Setting up the hosting
- Installing the website platform
- Create the initial content
I use two companies to handle everything. I use GoDaddy to register a domain name and I use Dreamhost to host and configure the website. Since I already have a Dreamhost account, I can add domains / websites without any additional cost. A 1 year dot com domain registration on GoDaddy is under ten dollars. This is the only cost I incur, so launching a complete and functional website costs under ten dollars.
Researching and registering a domain name through GoDaddy is quick and painless. Once you find an available domain name, follow the instructions to purchase the domain. Note: some believe that a longer registration for a domain name helps out the website when it comes to search engine rankings since Google (and others) might use short registrations as a sign that the website is not a legit source of quality information. You’ll also get a better annual rate for a longer term. I tend to still do 1-year registrations since some of my concepts do not pan out and I abandon them once I realize this. I think you’re fine with a 1-year registration.
Setting Up The Hosting
Since we are using Dreamhost for every website we create, I can go ahead and modify the nameserver information. In my GoDaddy account, I will goto Manage Domains, click on the domain that I just regsitered and change the domain’s nameservers to NS1.DREAMHOST.COM, NS2.DREAMHOST.COM and NS3.DREAMHOST.COM. Once you do that, you’re done with GoDaddy.
Adding the site to your Dreamhost Account
Next, you need to login to your Dreamhost Administration Panel (panel.dreamhost.com). You need to click on Manage Domains, then “Add New Domain / Sub-Domain”. On the “Add Domain” screen, you really only have to fill in the domain name in the first field. If you are planning on hosting a Ruby on Rails application, you may want to check the FastCGI and Passenger check boxes. If you are planning to use WordPress, Joomla or static HTML, just fill in the domain name at the top, and the web directory field should auto-populate. Fill in the Captcha word so Dreamhost knows you are a real person, and click the “Fully host this domain” button at the bottom.
You’re all set!
Installing the Website Platform
Dreamhost One-Click Install
The beauty of Dreamhost, besides being able to add numerous websites to your account for no extra charge, is the one-click install feature allowing you to install your favorite website platform without any technical knowledge required.
On the Admin panel for Dreamhost, click on “One-Click Installs”. On that page, make sure you select Install new website software – Advanced mode. If you choose easy mode, you will not be able to modify the installation including adding new themes.
Next, select the software such as WordPress. Then, select the domain to install it to in the drop down menu (should display all domains you have setup). I tend to use a separate database for each domain so you will want to select the “Create a new database now” radio button. Create a database name, then create a new host name as such: mysql.yourdomainname.com. Create the database user name and then click the “Install” button to tell the system to install your software.
Note: When managing multiple websites, it will be easier on yourself if you stick to a specific pattern when setting up these websites and corresponding databases. For example, keep the same pattern for the mysql database name and host name. Also, I keep the username the same for each database (make sure your password is strict).
Finish the Setup
When the software has been installed, Dreamhost will email you along with any further instructions and the link to the administration login for your new website. Login to the administration to make sure your site is setup correctly. You can also view your website at http://www.yourdomainname.com and you should see some shell of a platform with the default content.
Adding a Theme or Template
At this point, you need to know how to use the platform you have installed. On the major platforms like Joomla and WordPress, you can find a range of tutorials showing you how to get up and running.
In order to customize the look of your website, you need to install a theme or template. If you’re using Joomla, you can upload a new template directly through the administration panel. If you are on WordPress, you’ll need to upload a theme via FTP to your site (Your Dreamhost account comes with FTP access).
Creating The Initial Content
In order to get your website launched, you need to add the basic content. If you are launching a blog, you will want to public at least 5-10 pieces of solid content before doing any promotion of your site.
The Next Steps
Once you do this, you’re site can be considered launched! The easy part is done. Now comes the tough part: creating more content, monitoring your website, SEO, promotion, building and tracking your traffic.
Growing multiple websites is a tough task, one that I have a few ideas on how to improve the process; however launching and managing the actual websites is very easy if you use Dreamhost and GoDaddy as described in this post. Good luck!